It’s that time of year again. Summer preparations are in full swing and we’re all after that beach body, those biceps, those shoulders and THOSE abs. We all want that buff look, and so here are my top tips for bulking up in time to work that vest top and look fierce in those Calvin Kleins this summer.
First of all be aware of your body type. Everybody is either an ectomorph (thin with a low body fat % – slim), endomorph (wider waist, larger bone structure and a higher body fat %) and mesomorph (wide shoulders, narrow waist – muscular). Once you know which type you are then let the bulking commence.
Remember that an ectomorph will not achieve the results and muscle mass which a mesomorph would. This is down to genetics, something which you can have no control over. Saying that, an ectomorph can still manage to pull off that toned and healthy look. For an ectomorph wanting to bulk up, first of all you are going to need to consume more calories than you are used to, but calories rich in protein and good fats. This will provide the body with more energy stores and also repair muscle fibres so that you are able to hit the weights on a more regular basis. An ectomorph will already have low body fat, and so through regular gym sessions and increasing the weights you are lifting or bench pressing on a fortnightly basis, those bulging muscles will look amazing on that beach or in that club.
An endomorph will have more body fat than an ectomorph, so cardio is important here as it is the most effective way to burn those calories. Interval training (varying speeds, 1 minute sprint, 2 minutes jog etc.) is the quickest way of doing this. Contrary to belief, weights training is also a great way of burning calories as you actually burn calories whilst recovering from a workout. The more muscle mass a person has, the faster they burn calories, so get yourself booked into your local body pump class! By maintaining a consistent workout plan and by gradually increasing your weights you will have those non-gym goers envious in no time!
Finally, if you are a mesomorph then you are at an advantage as your body is more predisposed to building muscle which, with a sensible recovery routine, will allow you to increase your weights at a faster rate than an ectomorph or endomorph. Be careful though not to push your body to the point of exhaustion as recovery is the key to increasing muscle mass. Be sure to eat plenty of protein rich foods such as chicken, eggs and lentils. It is also worth mentioning that you cannot spot reduct (only focus on a specific muscle group e.g. biceps), if you are wanting to bulk up and build more muscle, then you have to work each major muscle group: quadriceps and hamstrings (front and rear of legs), latissimus dorsi (back), abdominals, shoulders, biceps, triceps and pectorals (chest) – see last week’s column for a great chest workout.
One of the areas which seems to get neglected in any workout is the back. There is a heavy emphasis placed on working the muscles in the chest as these are the more aesthetically pleasing muscles, but it is important to know that all muscle groups work in pairs and so if you are working the muscles in your chest, then you cannot neglect the muscles in your back, as this will only cause back pain and in extreme cases, spinal curvatures.
Below are three simple exercises to work the muscles in your back:
1. Back Extensions – laying on your front, toes and nose in contact with floor and hands at the side of your head, slowly lift your stomach off the floor, 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down. 2 sets of 10 repetitions are sufficient.
2. Lat Pull Down (most gym facilities will have one of these) – in a seated position, grip the handles and pull them down so that your clenched fists are no lower than your shoulders and then slowly release. 2/3 sets of 15 repetitions will do you just fine.
3. Dead Lift (with a barbell) – choose a suitable weight for the barbell, grip the bar with your palm facing backwards, ensure that your lower back is arched and that you are looking straight ahead with your chest out. Tip from your hips ensuring the bar goes down no further than your knees. Keep those feet pointing forwards. 2/3 sets of 10.
Work hard. Get buff.